Dangerous Manicures and Nail Health



Manicuring nails has become an increasingly popular routine. As we are all busier and busier, it is often a very affordable luxury to stop off at the neighborhood nail salon and in 20 minutes come out a little merrier and feeling a little more spiffed. Although stereotypically utilized by women, we now see some younger pre-teens and occasional men having outside nail services.

So what can go wrong? Skin infections with Staphylococcus and Psuedomonas, cellulitus, fungal nail infections, ringworm, warts, nail loss, bacterial nail infections, and abscess just to name a few. Diabetics, people on cancer medications, and patients with poor or decreased lower leg circulation have a higher risk of poor would healing and increased infections. If the person who sat in that nail salon’s fancy spa throne chair with the built in massage features before you had athlete’s foot, you have a reasonable chance of picking that up too.

While some salons are up to date with required antiseptic procedures, the majority are not. Many salons may fake antiseptic procedures by having a jar of blue antiseptic on their counter but never putting any instruments in the fluid. Or if they do put the instruments in the antiseptic fluid, it may not be for any adequate amount of time. Some salons have been found to use Windex window cleaning fluid in these jars instead of the required more expensive medical grade antiseptic fluid. We highly recommend purchasing a quality set of personal nail files, cuticle push-back, nail clipper, and buffer to take into your nail salon.

General recommendations for salon nail services:


• Purchase a quality set of nail files, cuticle push-back, nail clipper, buffer from Target, Sephora, or your local drugstore.
• Take your own nail instruments and files to the salon.
• Insist on a disposable liner in soaking tubs.
• Keep fingernails short and clean.
• Gently push back cuticles after a nice soak.
• Gently file down heel calluses with emery board or pumice stone.
• Walk away from a nail salon if it does not’t look right.
• Apply a good moisturizer like Cutemol, Aquaphor, Vaseline, or Crisco Vegetable Shortening to cuticles.
• Clean any cuts or abrasions with hydrogen peroxide and apply Polysporin or Neosporin.
• See your physician or dermatologist for discolored or thickened nails, or other skin infections.


• Dont's: clean aggressively under nails with sharp instruments
• Don't use the salon’s nail file and buff pad
• Don't soak in unhygienic salon tubs or basins
• Don't allow sharp instruments or cutting of heels or calluses
• Don't cut cuticles aggressively
• Don't overly wash hands with antibacterial soaps and detergents
• Don't use harsh skin cleansing products or soaps
• Dont use acrylic nail tips which can damage your own natural nails

Article by
Orange County Dermatologist